By Tatiana Pile, AOL.com
For young women aspiring to become leaders in their communities, mentorship can be vital aspect to their success.
Currently, only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women — but AnnTaylor Retail, Inc. and Vital Voices want break the status quo with HERLead, a fellowship which equips young women with the tools they need to become the next generation of leaders. The annual program, created in 2011, trains, mentors and inspires 30 girls in the 10th or 11th grade who are in high school in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.
Since it’s inception, over 310 fellows have made an impact through 246 project grant awards. And to date, those awards have benefited more than 70,000 people in 21 countries. Notable fellows include Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, and Nadya Okamoto, founder of Period.
“HERlead was a life-changing experience for me. Connecting with inspiring women from all over the world, who had overcome adversity and devoted their efforts to empowering others, pushed me to push past the adversity I was going through at the time and take action,” says Okamoto. “HERlead gave me the confidence in my voice and made me feel powerful with the potential I held, something I did not feel when I entered.”
The program has not only impacted citizens around the world, but also acted as a resource for local young women. Over 60 percent of fellows have mentored someone in their business, organization or community project. And ninety-two percent of fellows have assumed leadership positions following the HERlead Leadership Forum.
Applications for HERlead Fellowship open Tuesday, January 15 and close Friday, March 8. Interested applications can apply online here.
The 2019 Leadership forum, located in New York City, will take pace June 24 through June 27.